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Venturing into the GRE Sentence Equivalence Questions

Clear reasoning combined with a strong vocabulary is what is needed to succeed in this section. The section tests one’s ability to reach a conclusion from some given information that is incomplete. Sentence Equivalence questions have a single sentence with one blank that the candidate has to fill with two words to make the sentence coherent.

Structure of the Questions in this section
  • The question has:
    • a single sentence
    • one blank
    • six answer choices
  • You have to select two right answers from six choices. There will not be points for one correct answer, both should be right.
Tips to Answer the Questions
Do not go by selecting similar meaning words as that could be misleading. The answer choices may contain words with similar meanings to confuse the candidates. These may not be correct. Moreover, the two words may sound similar but may have entirely different meanings when considering the context. To answer these type of questions, take a look at the following tips:
  1. Read the sentence in the question to get an overall picture.
  2. Pick out the words or phrases that sound significant, as they could lead you to the correct answer choices.
  3. Before looking at the choices given, try to fill the blank with a word that you think is correct. Now look at the answers and pick the two that have a similar meaning to the word you have used. If you don’t find two words, then look at the answer choices to decipher the correct ones.
  4. When you have selected your pair of answer choices, check to make sure that each one produces a sentence that is logically, grammatically and stylishly coherent, and see that the two sentences mean the same.
Here’s an example for a sentence equivalence question:
1. For years the satellite had sent back a steady stream of clear images of distant planets, until only recently, when such transmissions became far more —-.
(A) distant
(B) sporadic
(C) intriguing
(D) granular
(E) inconsistent
(F) imperceptible
The Answer
Imperceptible is a very tempting answer. It makes sense that the images were once clear, now they are not clear. But the question does not have that approach. The real answer is in the modifying type of the transmissions. The transmissions cannot become less clear, they can become only less frequent.
Therefore, the word we are looking for is the exact opposite of continuous and steady images. Since the transmissions are not steady. So, they have become unsteady. Now that we now what word we are looking for, we have to spot synonyms of unsteady or not constant. Looking at the answer choices we can select the most appropriate answers.
Now, we can easily match that up with (B) sporadic and (E) inconsistent. And thus, we have our two correct answer choices.
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